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Why I have never played the race card...

(Or any other card, for that matter)

First of all, let me state the obvious: I belong to an ethnic group, not a race. There is a difference and I am not making this up.

Race and ethnicity are often confused despite their subtle differences. Race includes phenotypic characteristics such as skin color, whereas ethnicity also encompasses cultural factors such as nationality, tribal affiliation, religion, language and traditions of a particular group.

Who cares, anyway?

If putting me in a “box” helps you understand me better, go ahead and identify me as Hispanic or Latina. The most important thing for me is knowing who I really am, where do I come from, and how I present myself to the world.

If I have never seen myself as a minority, as a member of an oppressed, abused group, why would YOU perceive me as a second class citizen, as they say?

Simply stated, that is not who I am. I am a Mexican woman, a journalist who dreamed about working in a newspaper in the US. In 2003, I fulfilled that dream by legally immigrating to Dallas and joining BELO/The Dallas Morning News team. That’s when my real journey began. This upcoming August, I will celebrate 18 years as an adopted Texan, and a proud member of both Fort Worth and Las Colinas community.

Now back to the race card. It is a crutch and it is tacky to include it in your strategy to succeed, to show what you are capable of. Your dreams, your goals, and your drive should be enough to guide you to the top. Your talent, NOT the color of your skin should place you where you want to be. You should never consider yourself a token or a charity project.

And before you say: how dare you and what the hell do you know about having a tough life? Paisano, hold my beer.

I was living a beautiful, happy, uneventful life when my Dad relapsed and that is how I learned he was an alcoholic. It was like seeing aliens for the first time… wait, my Dad is drinking tequila with Sprite or something like that? Man,I do not like his breath. And why is he acting funny?

This went on for three years. He could disappear for days. We feared the worst. Is he dead? Is there any way to find out where the f*ck he is? “Oh he is fine, he has been drinking his a** off, your brothers found him”. Well, thank the Lord.

I was 15 years when I kicked him out of the house. Yep, I did that. He was laying down on the bed, his hangover was so bad he was getting intravenous rehydration. I told him he was an embarrassment to the family, disrespectful to my Mom and that if he had some dignity left he should just leave and work on his recovery.

By that time my oldest brother Guillermo already passed away after a bicycle accident that fractured his skull and left him in vegetative state. Mourning the death of my beloved brother, accepting my Dad’s addiction and the fact that he had a mistress. I think at some point he organized a dinner to introduce her to my oldest siblings. Excuse me?

Yeah, that was A LOT for a 15 year old.

I will stop here as I think I have made my point. At least for today. And by no means have I wanted to throw dirt at my Dad, who passed away last December.

If I have succeeded in life it has been because I have worked hard, CONSTANTLY; and because I have never, ever, allowed my circumstances to define me or slow me down.

I know I am not the only who has faced difficult situations in life, but I am one of the few that has overcame nasty sh*t, learned from it, and became stronger, wiser, kinder because of that.

I have been through hell and back. I am neither a victim nor a survivor. But I have earned enough “privilege” to speak my mind and express my well-thought opinion. And for that, I am grateful. God bless.

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